As we work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is hardly a more universal issue than gender-based violence. Sadly, wherever we come from, we can all somehow relate to it. Ending violence against women and girls is an important factor in achieving also our goals on peace and justice, sustainable cities and communities. Violence against women and girls takes place in the public sphere, and in the private and it has many forms, including violent harassment online and human trafficking. It stifles the potential of women and girls all over the world, and hinders their aspirations and dreams. It affects the lives of women of all ages, and their families.
Unfortunately, also in my own country violence against women and girls remains a serious problem. For us to make sustainable progress on this issue, we must also address the gender stereotypes that surround men and masculinity and the cultural and societal values that still subordinate women. We cannot address this human rights violation without fully engaging men and boys as a part of the solution. We need to address the socialisation of gender roles by addressing the public opinion, attitudes and behaviour, and education.
Violence against women and girls is a waste of human potential. It also seriously undermines the development of societies. The realization of gender equality, on the other hand, effectively promotes the achievement of all the other sustainable development goals. It is time that we work together with ample resources to achieve results, and make sure that we do not allow discrimination and violence undermine our efforts. We cannot achieve sustainable development without gender equality for all.
Women's participation in decision-making benefits societies as a whole and unlocks potential for economic growth. Finland has greatly benefitted from ensuring women's equal political rights, the right to education, the right to work, social protection, the right to own and inherit property as well as to sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is important to acknowledge that the possibility for women to freely make informed decisions over their own bodies is crucial for ensuring health, well-being and empowerment.
The 2030 Agenda has brought to our attention the poor state of gender statistics around the world. In order for adequate monitoring of the SDGs, we will need to invest in development of methodologies and capacities of statistical offices to gather data on gender. For instance, currently we do not have a universal statistical methodology to measure violence against women and girls, which makes comparison and progress monitoring difficult.
Because we are not able to see the full extent and severity of violence against women and girls, it is easily deprioritized in policy making. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda is a great opportunity to address the state of gender statistics and to ensure that we have relevant, measurable and comparable data on issues that affect the lives of all women and girls, men and boys. Particularly we have to work more to ensure that we develop statistical and monitoring systems to systematically collect disaggregated data.
The United Nations Statistics Division, in collaboration with Statistics Finland, is organizing the sixth Global Forum on Gender Statistics in Helsinki from 24 to 26 October. Previous forums have proven to be an important opportunity to take stock of progress towards the achievement of gender equality and women’s and girls' empowerment and to review data availability, data challenges and countries’ capacities to measure and monitor gender-relevant issues.
As a result from the implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda, there is an increased demand for gender statistics. Therefore, this year's Global Forum will focus on data and statistical methods for the follow up and review of the SDGs indicators framework, from a gender perspective. There will be an opportunity to reflect on different methods to produce, analyse and use data to measure and monitor women’s economic empowerment, violence against women, time use statistics and unpaid work, women’s political participation and women’s health.
To conclude, I would like to give a few examples of gender statistics in Finland.
Statistics Finland has worked towards more detailed and extensive data on violent offences and violence against women. For instance, the experts on gender statistics and crime statistics have worked together with Finland’s National Police Board in order to improve the data concerning violent offences and violence against women. Statistics Finland also publishes a wide compilation of gender statistics in publication “Women and Men in Finland”. In 2016 the publication comprised more detailed gender specific police statistics on victims of crimes and gender specific data on the use of shelters. Furthermore, Statistics Finland conducted a study on labor discrimination in 2014, which included gender as a ground for discrimination and unequal treatment.